Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Rice Lake, WI

  • Published 2023/03/09

For a short respite from your stressful city life, head to Rice Lake in Wisconsin’s Barron County.

Don’t let Rice Lake’s sleepy town appeal deceive you because this city is plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Sitting beside the eponymous lake, Rice Lake is Barron County’s commercial and tourist center.

Rice Lake is famous for its natural attractions, which you’ll see and experience through its parks and nature preserves.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy visiting Rice Lake because of the number of trails found in this area.

In addition, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts will also get their fill of sights because of the bird sanctuaries and wildlife-protected areas around Rice Lake.

If you’re only planning for a short excursion to Rice Lake, the city has an incredible community passionate about the arts and history.

Here are the best things to do in Rice Lake, WI:

Traverse the Famous Cedar Side Walking Trail

Most locals in Rice Lake would recommend starting your Rice Lake adventure by hiking the Cedar Side Walking Trail.

This six-kilometer out-and-back nature trail in Rice Lake features an easy route, perfect for everyone.

Besides hiking, Cedar Side Walking Trail is also a trendy route for off-road mountain bikers, trail runners, and nature lovers.

There’s no better way to start your travel adventure in Rice Lake than exploring Cedar Side Walking Trail.

One of its access points is at College Drive in Rice Lake.

Hunt for Great Finds at the Rice Lake Community Garage Sales

Every May, the entire Rice Lake community welcomes everyone to their annual three-day Rice Lake Community Garage Sale.

It’s a fun-filled experience you should join.

Everyone knows garage sales might hide something unique or special.

Check out this unique event in Rice Lake which allows you to score great finds at a meager price.

Expect antique furniture, pre-loved clothing, shoes, toys, collectibles, and memorabilia for sale during the garage sale.

The Rice Lake Comunity Garage Sale invites participating families from Moon Lake Drive, Linden Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue, E. Newton Street, and Philips Avenue.

So, make some room in your trunk because you’ll surely bring home a lot of stuff from your Rice Lake travel adventure.

Join the Festive Barron County Fair

Experience the noise, the festive mood, and the live music of the annual Barron County Fair in Rice Lake every July.

This massive community gathering draws more than a thousand people from all around Barron County.

The Barron County Fair hosts vendors selling produce and livestock, an amusement park, concessions, and musicians every year.

Historically, the Barron County Fair has been in Rice Lake since 1877.

The Barron County Agricultural Society organizes this significant affair.

It started through the efforts of then-president W.W. Finn and vice president John Quarderer.

One of the Barron County Fair’s highlights is the beauty pageant dubbed “Fairest of the Fair Contest,” which features Barron County’s most beautiful ladies.

Get Serenaded at the Sundown at the Shell

Sundown at the Shell is one of the most recommended local activities in Rice Lake.

This monthly concert series happens at the Veteran’s Memorial Park, featuring Barron County’s best local musicians.

It runs from July to August.

It’s a must-experience event in Rice Lake.

Besides great music, you’ll also enjoy tasting a wide array of food and drinks through its vendors.

Enjoy the music at the famous seashell-shaped outdoor theatre.

Score Great Finds in the Annual Flea Market and Craft Fair

The Barron County Historical Society organizes plenty of community-related events.

One of the group’s most sought-after events is the annual outdoor flea market at the Pioneer Village Museum in June.

The flea market features pre-loved items from Barron County’s locals.

Like most flea markets, this one in Pioneer Village Museum offers the same excitement and fun browsing dozens of shops.

You can shop for clothing, purses, jewelry, shoes, furniture, housewares, customized designs, artworks, and collectibles.

Speaking of unique souvenirs from your Rice Lake travel adventure, this flea market is the best place to find one.

In addition, this flea market is also a worthwhile experience because you can also tour the historic buildings of the Pioneer Village Museum.

Watch Them Go at the Rice Lake Speedway

If you’re looking for an exhilarating experience during your visit to Rice Lake, head to the famous Rice Lake Speedway.

This 1/3-mile racecourse in Rice Lake is famous for its regularly-hosted races featuring Midwest modified, modified super stocks, pure stocks, and street stock racing cars.

Rice Lake Speedway has become the center of motorsports in Barron County since 1952.

It has already produced many top-caliber racers.

Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or perhaps a simple visitor, don’t miss an exciting race at Rice Lake Speedway.

Have a Picnic at the Veterans Memorial Park

The Veteran’s Memorial Park is the city’s first and most extensive community park.

This community park is the locals’ favorite place to relax or have fun.

Veteran’s Memorial Park in Rice Lake is not just another typical community park; it’s where most of the city’s events happen.

It includes the annual Sundown by the Shell, a free concert featuring local bands and musicians performing at the seashell-shaped outdoor theatre in the park.

In addition, Veteran’s Memorial Park in Rice Lake hosts sports and recreation.

Besides its famous outdoor theatre, it also features a playground, picnic tables, tennis courts, shelter, a wooded area, and the Civil War monument and Veteran’s War Memorial.

Catch a Live Performance at the RedBarn Theatre

RedBarn Theatre is the premier performing arts center in Rice Lake.

Since the 1960s, this community theatre has showcased local talent through live performances and productions.

If you’re a fan of stage plays or Broadway, catch a show at RedBarn Theatre.

It has successfully staged countless productions such as the Mamma Mia!, Hallelujah Girls, Boys in Autumn, The World Goes Round, Footloose, and Sister Act.

Have Fun at Skate City

For wholesome entertainment with your loved ones in Rice Lake, check out Skate City.

This indoor roller-skating rink has operated since 1978, making it the premier roller-skating spot in the city.

Various fun attractions have become part of this iconic entertainment hub in Rice Lake through the years.

It has a mini-golf course, turtle slide, volleyball court, ball pit, overnight lock-ins, and Saturday night dances.

Today, Skate City dedicates itself as the premier wholesome entertainment center in Rice Lake.

It is still widely known for its iconic blue skating floor.

In addition, it has arcade games and lots of fun for the entire family.

Hike the Wild Rivers Trail

The Wild Rivers Trail in Rice Lake takes you through 9.1-miles of scenic trails.

If you’re looking for more outdoor adventure during your visit to Rice Lake, head to the Wild Rivers Trail.

Besides its 9.1-mile trail that traverses Rice Lake, you can venture out to Douglas County, Washburn County, to Solon Springs, about 104-miles in total distance.

If you don’t have the time to hike the 104-mile trail, you can always rent an ATV to complete the journey.

You can take a snowmobile in the winter.

Likewise, you can traverse this famous trail in Barron County through horseback riding or bike.

Ultimately, you decide how you want to conquer the Wild Rivers Trail.

Spot Exotic Birds at Wolfinger Bird Sanctuary

The Wolfinger Bird Sanctuary is a popular birdwatching location in Rice Lake.

It is a nature preserve featuring woodlands, marshes, and Rice Lake.

If you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or a birdwatcher, head to the Wolfinger Bird Sanctuary to spot various bird species.

This bird sanctuary is mainly along E. Orchard Beach Lane in Rice Lake.

This bird sanctuary offers the raw beauty of Rice Lake’s wilderness, making it an excellent place to spot different bird species.

You can also spot local wildlife such as deer and other small mammals in the area.

Play Sports at Earl Clanton Memorial Park

Earl Clanton Memorial Park along Hammond Avenue is a 16-acre community park known for its top-notch sports facilities.

If you want to play sports before going home, go to Earl Clanton Memorial Park.

The park features numerous football fields, softball diamonds, a press box, a multi-purpose building, and a concession stand.

Most of Rice Lake’s football and softball tournaments happen here, making this place more exciting to visit.

In addition, it’s right next to the Rice Lake Hockey Arena, another sports facility worth checking out.

Challenge Your Mind and Body at Tactical Escape 101

Can you escape a room filled with mystery puzzles to solve in just 60 minutes?

Assuming that you’re a traveling family or a group of friends or co-workers, all of you will take part in this fun and challenging activity at Tactical Escape 101.

There are four different themed rooms you can choose from according to your preferences as a group with a game master to assist you if need be.

Find the clues and solve these mystery puzzles in just an hour and get out of the room a champion!

Tactical Escape 101 is located in Cedar Mall on South Main Street.

Play Bowling at Rand’s Bowling Lanes & Lounge

Another family-friendly activity to do in Rice Lake is to play bowling at Rand’s Bowling Lanes & Lounge.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert bowler, the alley offers everything needed to have a great game with your family without having to go out.

It’s a ten-pin bowling alley in an old-school retro-style setting; something that customers love.

Rand’s Bowling Lanes & Lounge also hosts bowling tournaments regularly.

And if you need to grab a bite, there are delicious food and drinks available on-site.

Go Fishing at Lake Montanis

If you’re into fishing, you can cast your fishing line at Lake Montanis, which is stocked with great kinds of fish to catch.

With a maximum depth of 14 feet, this little charm may have a low water clarity, but fishing gives you a chance to catch Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye.

The 212-acre lake gives access to visitors through its boat landings in its northeast and southwest sections.

There are several fishing regulations that you need to follow for more fun and exciting fishing at Lake Montanis.

You can use baits, hooks, or lures to catch fish here.

Get Your Coffee Fix at Cabin Coffee Company

How about house-roasted fresh coffee by the fireplace on a cold weather day in Rice Lake?

Established in 2002, Cabin Coffee Company roasts the coffee beans on-site, making each cup even fresh and top quality.

What’s more interesting is that you can choose your beans and how you’d want them roasted while watching the process.

Cabin Coffee Company also serves delicious pastries, as well as select vegetarian options.

With a wonderful and cozy atmosphere, you can enjoy your favorite coffee or espresso while being surrounded by warm and friendly smiles!

Chill Out at Hoots on the Water

Cold drinks and delicious food with game nights, karaoke, and a whole lot of fun are what Hoots on the Water does best.

It’s a great spot on the lake where people gather to chill out after a long day.

Formerly known as The Bungalow, the bar serves specialty drinks and delicious comfort food to enjoy with beautiful views of the lake.

There’s also a pool table to play billiards while enjoying a cold beer.

On weekends, karaoke nights and DJs will keep you entertained.

Hoots on the Water also offers Happy Hour and 2-for-1 beers and other drinks!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Historical Pioneer Village Museum

The Pioneer Village Museum in Cameron is a fascinating historical location in Barron County that’s worth visiting.

Cameron is 13 minutes away from Rice Lake.

This place was one of the early settlements in Barron County.

It is complete with a school, general merchandise, church, jail, blacksmith, train depot, caboose, log houses, farmstead, etc.

Walking through the streets of this open-air museum virtually takes you back to a time when life was simple.

You can visit around ten well-preserved buildings in the Pioneer Village Museum.

In addition, you can find an indoor exhibition hall featuring old clothing, wedding dresses, and other memorabilia in the Pioneer Village Museum.

Lastly, the village’s peaceful environment makes it excellent for a picnic, while its gift shop features unique souvenirs worth checking out.

Celebrate Midsummer’s Eve

For a unique travel experience in Rice Lake, celebrate the annual Midsummer’s Eve at the Pioneer Village Museum.

The Barron County Historical Society and the Sons of Norway- Dovre Lodge host this traditional Norwegian celebration.

This unique festival celebrates Scandinavian culture’s old and new traditions through former immigrants and now locals of Barron County.

You shouldn’t miss this festival on your Rice Lake trip.

Experience the Old Life in the Pioneer Village Day Camps

One of the most exciting events recommended during your visit to Rice Lake is the Pioneer Village Day Camps every June.

This three-day camp is an educational workshop/outdoor adventure for kids ages seven to 13.

It lets participants experience life back in the 1800s in Northwest Wisconsin.

The experience lets participants appreciate how simple life was back in the day.

During the three-day camp, they’ll feed farm animals, handwash clothes, attend one-room school, weave a basket, water the garden, etc.

You’ll also learn about Native American culture, history, and heritage during the camp.

Final Thoughts

Rice Lake has everything an outdoor enthusiast wants, from the pristine lakes, parks, and bird sanctuaries to nature preserves.

Moreover, Rice Lake has a rich history that can teach anyone curious enough to learn.

Its tightly-knitted community makes this small city extra special through various events that are indeed fun to join.

Overall, Rice Lake is a lovely destination for those who want a short respite.

So, which of these Rice Lake attractions will you visit first?

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